The Little Green Dress - An Interview with Eco-Friendly Fashion Blogger Meryl Franzos
by Natalie Bencivenga
July 7, 2020
Fashion blogger Meryl Franzos talks hopes for the future of the fashion industry post-Covid and in the midst of climate change and social change.
How did you get interested in fashion? I’ve always been interested as far back as I can remember. My mother set aside a lot of stuff for me to play dress up in. In the early ‘80s, my mother got me one of those fashion plates where you could interchange the head with her torso and her bottom half and mix and match outfits together. Then you would put a piece of paper over it with a crayon to etch and then color. These fashion illustrations sparked my interest.
When did you become serious about your love of fashion? I went to a small liberal arts college in Michigan and they didn’t really have a fashion program but they did have a New York City internship. I leaned in and interned with Anna Sui, and enjoyed that. It was such a good professional experience and so I was hired back the next year in 2002 spring.
How did you end up in Pittsburgh? I got married and moved to Pittsburgh, and felt like I could land another position in another fashion company here. I tried to get my foot in the door everywhere around the city but my life went a different path. Fashion became a persistent part of my personal story.
How did your blog, “Mrs. Franzos,” begin? After divorcing and getting married again to a very creative photographer, he fueled me and supported that interest to really do something with my blog. I go through periods of interest and disinterest in fashion, and sometimes, I can’t be bothered.
Is that why you started your #OOTD on Instagram? The outfit of the day series on Instagram evolved out of a dark place for me. I was just trying to make myself feel better and I guess that started in word form. I thought people were perceiving me as happy and well dressed so I hoped eventually I might feel like I’m that person.
Is fashion therapeutic for you? It helped me with my control issues. I have experienced infertility and it is the one thing you cannot control. It’s all consuming. You are just hungry for anything that you can possibly control and so I latched onto it.
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You post a lot of #OOTD that mix vintage items or second-hand. Is that nod towards promoting eco-friendly fashion a conscious decision? It totally was conscious to be eco-friendly. As I became more and more aware of the waste created from fashion and the issues of human rights that are constantly being encroached upon, I knew I wanted my style to reflect a positive change. I was also working out more consistently and losing a lot of weight. Getting an entire new wardrobe is expensive and vintage shopping is fun, but time consuming. Online second-hand shopping made sense.
What’s your favorite eco-friendly online shop? When I found thredup, I was thrilled because I could go through and pinpoint what I wanted. I could also be more intentional as to what I was looking for and find it considerably cheaper than retail. It also felt good to give things to thredup because if they can’t resell it, you can request it back or you can ask them to donate it responsibly.
What does personal style mean to you? In this moment, with the Black Lives Matter movement, Covid-19, and police brutality dominating the news, fashion feels very distant for me at the moment. I’m not really quite sure if what I’m doing matters, but we still have to get dressed in the morning. I’m rolling with it, that is the theme of the year.
Does fashion send a message? I’m not sure I’ve wrapped my head around how fashion can send a message. During the early days of Covid, I would get really upset by designer and monogrammed Louis Vuitton face masks, for example. The social issues were just pouring out and I was disgusted with all of what seemed elitist. But other countries have been dealing with airborne diseases for a long time, and these companies do cater to that market. It wasn’t a response to Covid in the way I thought. It had already existed. But still, I feel like it’s not a great message to send.
As a fashion blogger in these times, should you reinvent? I don’t know where I fit in the future. I’m fortunate to work from home right now, but I don’t know for how long. I hope to be resilient in any direction that this takes me. All I know is that I like to wear slides now to slip my feet in and out of them super fast. I hardly wear heels, anymore. I’m kinda sad about that, but not really.
What do you hope for the future of the fashion industry post-Covid and in the midst of climate change and social change? I hope people realize that what was done in the past won’t fly now. For me, it has been very eye opening. I am white and have privilege, and I do want to speak out more about these issues. I don’t know if you call it a renaissance or a reckoning, but I think businesses and fashion brands moving forward need to be more aware of what they are putting out there, how they are obtaining their products and treating their workers.
What do you hope will change with fashion bloggers? There are big shake ups at Condé Nast, Vogue, and with Anna Wintour’s recent statements...I have been creeping on a lot of brands and bloggers through Instagram and see if they are making some kind of gesture or holding themselves accountable in any way. It is disappointing to see big bloggers not really touching on any of this stuff and acting like it’s business as usual. But I am hopeful to see new faces and I look forward to that. I have always been hungry for a diverse crowd in fashion. So much of what I saw in the fashion industry was white, blonde fashion bloggers doing the same thing. I hope this shakes things up and we start amplifying more voices and seeing a lot more BIPOC and LGBTQ+ inspiration because it’s interesting and it’s great and it’s so necessary.
Follow Meryl on Instagram: @theicecreamsocialistparty